A world of frustration for startups

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In China, fresh graduates are not easy to become entrepreneur right after university. Though there are exceptions, most cases I observe, are people who have been veteran in a specific industry, accumulated sufficient resources, and acquired ample networks to launch their own business. Even so, the fate of startup might still languish in the long run.

I knew a McKinsey consultant based in HongKong who is now working in progress for his startup ambition. So far he has been on a bumpy road of seeking partnership with several most famous actresses in greater China region. He has solicited a list of candidates, but none of them seemed interested in his offer which does includes a big fat paycheck and a quite lucrative deal. I asked him why not try to convince less glamorous actress yet with hidden potentials? He said he has to after top ones as huge celebrity endorsement would insure instant success. We two met each other in October last year; 5 month lapsed, he told me he has no good news to update, although as much optimistic as he can be, I somehow sensed his frustration deep down.

Yes, the first frustration of being snubbed and mistrusted.

Startup means you are nobody; admit or not, many out there believe you will not thrive for long. Even in tech sector in Silicon Valley, you have a creative product, a market niche, do everything right, the chance of survival is just 50%, concluded by Naval Ravikant, founder of Angelist, during one of his interviews.

Second the frustration of clumsiness in raising funds.

The yearning for more capitals should haunt almost every heart of startup entrepreneur. Even for high technology startups, even they have so called incubators, angel investors, venture capitalists, but do entrepreneurs truly know the game rules of raising money, in terms of best practices about where to go, who to pitch, what to do, how to differentiate?

In US I do see many investors dish out their valuable insights in the public media, but in China, I have to say scant. I had a brief conversation with a HongKong background VC working in a tiny VC firm based in China. According to what he told me, I felt the circle here is all about discretion, confidentiality or just keep their mouth shut. Transparency is not their hallmark and silence is always golden.

I understand it might be the industry protocol for VCs; in the mean time my pontification would be it is also the hypocrisy of VCs. They know how to play the game but in the mean time they put everybody else in the dark because information asymmetry gives them absolute advantages.

Finally the frustration of non-fostering environment.

China is neither Silicon Valley nor innovation center. Current China does have a fertile soil of cultivating independent and headstrong spirit of entreprenuship; however in the internet scene, there is already this budding trend that predominance of giant companies leaves no growing space for startups.

In addition, an American entrepreneur once commented to me that in China almost everyone wants to be a founder of a startup but no one is willing to work for a startup, which translates that it is damn painful to build up a good team here. Well, Chinese society does not offer high standards of social welfare and safety net for unemployment, so how would you expect someone is willing to work for you based on the odds that 9 out 10 startups die within short time period?

Embracing a whole world of frustrations, should you still consider become an entrepreneur? I shall say yes if it is indeed your passion and obsession.

You are going to walk through a dark alley filled with your weary and drudgery. Tears, sweats, bruises would not defeat you because all the scorns you have swallowed, you determine to turn them into awe.

What if in the end, you are still unable to make it and see the light from the other side of the dark alley? Life is a peregrination, heedless of success or failure, an adventure for your most ardent dream without regret matters the most.



Cecilia Wu

A witty, nutty and frosty writer who hopes to jot down moments of inspiration from her daily life

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